Hearing postponed in case of missing Smoaks children | News | The Press and Standard
by The Press and Standard | April 13, 2016 5:00 pm
Last Updated: April 13, 2016 at 2:15 pm
By GEORGE SALSBERRY
Last week’s Colleton County Family Court merit hearing into the Department of Social Services’ placement of three Smoaks children into protective custody was postponed.
A new hearing date has not yet been set.
Family Court Judge Gerald Smoak scheduled the merit hearing (a court proceeding equivalent to a preliminary hearing) to revisit the protective custody order for the three children (ages 2, 3 and 4) during a probable cause hearing on March 14.
That probable cause hearing was conducted in the days following the disappearance of the three children from Bent Gate Lane on March 9.
During that hearing, Colleton County Sheriff’s Office Capt. Jason Chapman asked Smoak to keep the children in protective custody while sheriff’s office investigators continued its probe into the children’s disappearance on March 9.
The children were found in a closet of a vacant trailer on Bent Gate Lane, 17 hours after they were first reported missing.
Officials from the sheriff’s office reported the trailer was searched shortly after the children were reported missing and again several hours later. The children were not in the trailer when those searches were conducted, according to the sheriff’s office.
Lt. Shane Roberts, the sheriff office’s public information officer, said the investigation continues.
“It is on-going; we are making progress,” Roberts said. “The key word here is progress. We are getting closer to understanding what happened to the children and who was involved.”
Investigators, according to Roberts, have been interviewing and re-interviewing people, “tracking down new leads and new pieces of information.”
The children have been interviewed by a forensic psychologist, Roberts said, and “their information has been beneficial, but we need information from the adults.”